It has been nearly impossible to ignore or not know about the Rehteah Parsons story. This poor girl was sexually assaulted by 4 boys. One of them took pictures of her assault and forwarded them to his friends. She was teased and tormented and propositioned by strangers until she hanged herself in the family bathroom.
Here is but one story. But, there are hundreds more, from media all over the world. And you really must read the blog post her father wrote about her today.
This story has gone from a local one, to a regional one, to a national one, and now international, all within the space of 48 hours.
I am sick and tired of how the buck keeps getting passed. The police didn't think there was enough evidence to press charges, even though the picture likely constituted child pornography. The Crown didn't think there was sufficient proof to obtain a conviction. The school board said it didn't want to get involved for fear of interfering with the police investigation. The minister of justice in Nova Scotia waffled from defending the police investigation to wanting it reopened.
The bottom line, and it's a cliche, is that the system failed this poor girl. Every check and balance that was supposed to protect her , did not do so.
If you have read the blog posts from last year, the year in review series, you'll remember that starting in 1976 until 1979, when I was in junior high school, I was bullied nearly within an inch of my life. Literally. After a given day of the harassment at the hands of fellow students and even a couple of teachers, I could at least claim the refuge of my parents' home, of my bedroom, of whatever radio I was listening to at the moment, and of my books. The abuse made me insular, drew me within myself and continues to make it difficult for me to trust people while at the same time giving me an over-the-top desire to please people.
(Yeah, yeah. I have to let this stuff go. And I think I have. I have forgiven those people. But even today, when I see some of them around and they say hello to me, I say little or nothing in return. I have forgiven them, but I don't want to be their friend either.)
As I stated, at least I had that refuge, and I didn't have to see those people on weekends or during the summer. That didn't make Sunday evenings any better for me, but at least I would have had a break from them.
I have no idea at all how I could have coped then had the social media that exist today been in existence then. People can be bullied on a 24x7 basis and often are. What I went through 35 years ago, is probably nothing compared to what kids have to put up with today.
I am a law and order kinda guy. I abide by some laws I personally disagree with because the consequences of not doing so are unpleasant to contemplate. But a part of me, a bigger part of me than I care to admit exists, hopes that the 4 punks who did this are outed and feel just a little bit of what they put Rehteah through. Maybe then, if bullies get their comeuppance, just this once, it may mean that the next Rehteah Parsons will be able to go on with her life and put this shit behind her, confident that the system will protect her and punish those who hurt her.
We can always hope.